Hi Cathy, I've read articles where patents were like buying a lottery ticket to a lawsuit. Is it worth that risk? Thanks in advance.
Assuming the context of this is when you're a small startup, this is a tricky question to answer and it really depends on your technology. I think in some cases they can be very helpful, not necessarily because you're going to be able to defend them now (which would cost a huge amount of money that you don't have), but because it makes your position much stronger when raising capital, IPOing, or being acquired. Provisional patents are the first step and are pretty cheap; they're a good way to hedge your bets for 12 months without investing a lot, and protect your IP until you decide if a full patent is worth it.